A 17th century English theologian and historian named Thomas Fuller popularized the old Irish folk saying “it is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.”
Since Fuller first published the phrase in 1650, an array of theologians, psychiatrists, psychologists, historians, philosophers, and self-help gurus have utilized the concept of things getting better shortly after a low point when attempting to help others overcome difficult times.
There is no better example of intense grief and despair quickly followed by great news than the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus over 2000 years ago. As believers around the globe celebrate the risen Christ this Easter weekend - we are reminded that Jesus’s death was not permanent. Jesus’s resurrection on the third day, the cornerstone of the Christian faith, is living proof that the dawn has arrived.
While historians credit Fuller with the quote, its origins pre-date his writings by centuries. The Bible is replete with stories of people who are experiencing suffering in their lives in one form or another, but even amid their pain, time and time again, God offers hope and a way out of despair.
This hope carries us through difficult times and motivates us to move forward. All of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, experience anguish over life events and loss. No person, no pill, and no 17th century proverb can eliminate our emotional and physical ailments. But on this Easter weekend, know that God is a God who comforts and who sent His only son to offer each of us hope for a brighter future.
The sensationalized 24-hour news cycle and everyday trials and tribulations of our own lives can make it difficult to hold onto hope that pain and suffering too shall pass. But as the book of Romans in the New Testament says: “Not only so, but we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” So rather than avoiding difficulty, let us persevere through to the other side. For we know that the truest of character is forged on the anvil of hardship.
Just this week, the world watched in horror as one of its enduring symbols of faith, Notre Dame de Paris, burned helplessly. But we awakened the following morning to photos of a glowing cross standing amid the ashen rubble — a cross symbolizing pain and sacrifice, but also expressing an enduring hope.
Since then, the intense outpouring of support from around the globe to help rebuild one of the world’s most recognizable symbols of faith is the latest illustration of the fundamental truth that darkness and destruction are not permanent. Just as Jesus emerged from the grave on Easter Sunday, offering forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation, so too will Notre Dame re-emerge as a symbol of faith, hope, and solidarity for millions in France, across Europe, and around the world.
After all, the darkness of night will soon turn to dawn.